WikiLeaks' Nato revelations cause 'bewilderment' in Russia

US embassy cables show Nato had drawn up plans to defend Poland and Baltic states against Russian attack

Russia's foreign ministry said today it was "bewildered" by revelations that the Nato military alliance had drawn up secret contingency plans for the defence of eastern Europe from Russian military aggression.

Classified US diplomatic cables show that nine Nato divisions – US, British, German and Polish – have been identified for combat operations in the event of an attack on Poland or the three Baltic states.

A source in Russia's foreign ministry said the information disclosed by WikiLeaks and detailed in the Guardian caused "a lot of questions and bewilderment with us".

The Nato-Russia summit in Lisbon last month had adopted a statement that "clearly says the security of Nato countries and Russia is intertwined, and the NRC [Nato Russia Council] member states will refrain from any use or threat of the use of force against each other," the source told Interfax.

"Russia has repeatedly raised the question about the need to ensure that there is no military planning aimed against one another," the source added.

"Obvious facts" demonstrated that "Russia is not building up its military presence near the borders of the countries mentioned in the release, but on the contrary it is coherently reducing heavy weaponry in the Kaliningrad region," the source said. Kaliningrad is the exclave bordering Poland and Lithuania where Russia's Baltic Fleet is based.

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, has just completed a visit to Warsaw and is due in Brussels – where Nato is headquartered – for an EU-Russia summit today.

His meetings in Poland had suggested a repairing of relations between Moscow and the former Soviet satellite, which could now be damaged.

The two countries have clashed repeatedly over US plans for a missile defence shield in eastern Europe.

Meanwhile, a leading Russian MP called for Nato to clarify its position. Leonid Slutsky, the deputy chairman of the state duma's international affairs committee, said that Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's ambassador to Nato, should establish "whether such plans have really been secretly nurtured, or whether they represent the individual preference of one or other of the Nato states, without reflecting the collective position of the alliance".

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Rogozin urged Nato to reject the defence plan outlined in the secret cables, saying it would "provoke serious public resonance" in Russia.

But Alexei Fenenko, a security expert in Moscow, said: "I don't see anything sensational in this news that Russia is seen as a potential military threat to the Nato states.

"These cables were leaked now as a provocation designed to undermine the recent tendency toward co-operation between Nato and Russia, and the improved relations between Poland and Russia over the last six months."

• This article was amended on 13 December 2010. The original said that Kaliningrad is the exclave bordering Poland and Latvia. This has been corrected.


Tom Parfitt in Moscow

The GuardianTramp

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